Top tips for first time cruisers – Before you go

BON VOYAGE!

You have dreamt of seeing the world and there are few better ways to do so than a cruise.  Whether you have already booked or are looking to book these are some of our tips learned during our many years of cruising.

1) Cheaper is not always better   Do not pick a cruise based solely on price.  While cruises may look similar, you should always look at the pros and cons of each voyage and take into consideration what ports the cruise visits, cabin types, the ship itself and what is included on board.  An experienced travel agent will be able to find the best cruise to match your needs and preferences.

2) Cruise on older ships to save money   With new and larger ships coming out and making all the news headlines, the older ships often have better itineraries and deals.  These ships are still in great shape (many have been refurbished to include enhancements from newer ships) and offer fares that could save a significant amount of money.

3) Pick the best cabin for you  For a first time cruiser, you won’t be spending a lot of time in the cabin but instead out enjoying all the activities on board.  Cabins are priced based on category and location and while an interior or an ocean view cabin may be lesser in cost, having a cabin with a balcony is worth the extra cost.  Enjoy a cup of coffee while watching the sun come up and have a private place to view the ocean and the ports as you arrive and depart.  If you have a choice of deck, pick one on a higher deck.  These are closer to many of the ships main attractions including the buffet and pool.

 

4) Ensure your passport is valid  Passports should be valid for at least 6 months past the end date of your cruise to make sure no issues.  While some cruise lines will allow you to board with an official birth certificate and picture id, this is not valid for air travel in the event you need to fly home from a port.  Visit our Travel Resources page for links to TSA and State Department travel related information including passports and visas.

5) Arrive in cruise port a day before sailing  If you are traveling by air to embark on your cruise, fly in the day before and stay overnight before you board.  This takes stress off you in case of travel delays as the ship will not wait for you if your flight is delayed on the day of travel.  Booking air through the cruise line is another way to make sure you do not miss the boat as they normally will ensure if you miss original embarkation that you can join the ship in the next port.

6) What’s included in cruise price?   Shipboard accommodation as reserved and paid for, ocean transportation per itinerary, all meals, some non-alcoholic beverages  (including, tea, coffee, lemonade and iced-tea),  and most entertainment as provided onboard.

7) What’s not included in cruise price?  The cruise vacation price does not include items of a personal nature, such as shore excursions, beverages, dining in the specialty restaurants, laundry, telephone calls, photographs, medical services, casino chips, onboard shopping, or other items not specifically stated as included in the cruise cost etc. These items may be purchased separately.

8) Learn about your ship – There is so much to do and see while on board learning about your ship beforehand is extremely helpful.  All cruise lines will have a frequently asked questions (FAQ) section on their website.  This is especially useful as it is specific to them and you are able to find detailed information that includes dress codes, dining options, shore excursions, tipping policies and more.

9) Research Your Ports  The ships itinerary will be very detailed with regards to what ports you will visit and the times of arrival and departure from the ports. This provides great information for when it comes to planning shore excursions that can be booked directly through the ship, or with external operators. But be aware if booking externally, that the time to get back on the ship is non-negotiable and it may not be wise to miss getting back on board for the sake of saving a few dollars.  If a ship booked excursion is late returning the ship is made aware and will almost always wait before leaving the port.

10) Know your cruise lingo Visit our Cruise Ship Terminology page to learn some frequently used lingo.

Get ready for your trip of a lifetime and know that your first cruise definitely will not be your last.  Many of us are known as “cruise addicts” for a reason! Contact us today to book your dream vacation!

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